What We’re Learning From Online Education

Our use of online education is turning us all into self-taught humans. It’s making us all a bit too much like teachers ourselves.

What We're Learning From Online Education

Andrew D. Wu / Contributor iStock By 2020, more than 9 million students will take a new online degree from Grand Canyon University. That’s the prediction from researcher Annis Heeger, vice president for research for Grand Canyon University. “Many” of those students will start their online studies at Grand Canyon and end up continuing their studies at universities in all corners of the world. While some of that shift will be driven by the aggressive expansion of online learning, which is in part fueled by technology, plenty of it will reflect the general change in how we learn, the evolution of demographics, and the changing nature of higher education. Here are some of the ways online education has changed higher education over the past decade: The Internet fosters scale Building a large learning community online has become easier thanks to the availability of online education platforms. That makes Grand Canyon’s university (whose name stems from the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park) a more attractive option for students who do not wish to be on a sprawling, sprawling campus with a lot of other students.

It’s really hard to follow a typical college campus these days with all of its distractions. Students aren’t expected to study. If they do, it will be for 20-minute chunks at the start of the day. Andrew D. Wu / Contributor When those 20-minute studying sessions come and go, students are generally not going to have the room to write papers that require an hour to do justice to. So Grand Canyon has brought together virtually every good thing about a true university and put it on the web. It has operated a network of virtual classrooms, gives every student its own account so that they can manage it themselves, and competes head-to-head with traditional colleges to get the best professors. Net revenue matters Grand Canyon was one of the first large-scale online institutions to come out with tuition rates high enough to keep its classes full of students and paying. In order to keep tuition costs low, the university relies on scholarships and financial aid to supplement its income.

The average student at Grand Canyon receives approximately $21,900 in scholarships and financial aid, according to Heeger. In other words, the majority of students at the university are receiving more financial aid than their peers at traditional universities. A lot of that aid comes through these competitive online university’s tuition rates, which keeps their classes full. No back-room dealings with accreditors Other than Blackboard and Harvard University, there is no other certification brand other than the United States. Not anymore.

Heeger cites admissions data from the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. For public institutions, 19.6 percent have adopted Common App as their admissions process. For private universities, it’s 22.4 percent. As a result, many students and their families are choosing a more internationally-friendly online education over an institution or program that requires you to get certified by local accreditors. A certificate from the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers or other recognized agencies is very similar to any other degree given at any college campus. Similarly, a business certificate can be obtained at the library, at the executive services office or at an urban enterprise center. Of course, the Middle East still has to prove itself in this new global economy.

So students can more easily get a degree on the open market, while governments and institutions can fix their certification problems. Credit for more students Assimilation online will only increase, a new trend in education that furthers specialization. Once, if you wanted to learn something new, you had to devote time and money to a traditional college and the associated student loan debt. These days, by and large, graduates are able to get in-depth knowledge without the pressure of deadlines and a specific drop-off point.

Not that students don’t spend enough time at work at internships and part-time jobs. They do. What’s new, however, is that there is now a logical drop-off point, where professors can give you a quality degree without all of the restrictions and backroom deals of a university. K-12 education has gone through a similar shift, too. Once, if you wanted to know something new, you had to spend thousands of dollars to go to your local community college, dig up some old textbooks, and spend hours sitting in a classroom in another country, where you probably had to pay for your own food and drink, if you came from a middle-class family. Today, you can learn and acquire knowledge at your fingertips in your bed, in your car or on the go. If you’re willing to spend $1,500, you can get a degree from UNLV, in Nevada, which is touted as having the best online degree offering in the country.

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